The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has become the first International Federation to achieve a full house of 226 National Associations after the last & final missing piece on the ITTF world map, Guinea Bissau Table Tennis Federation, was accepted on 6 May 2017.
This feat means that table tennis has reached all possible countries and territories, and built its presence in all corners of the globe.
ITTF President Mr. Thomas Weikert was present at the ceremony in Guinea Bissau to give the official welcome into the ITTF family, and handed over the ITTF flag to the elected President of the association, Ms. Avelina Jandi. He also met the President of the National Olympic Committee Sergio Mane and State Secretary for Youth, Culture and Sport Tomas Barbosa.
Here is the video of the celebrations in Guinea Bissau.
“For the ITTF and for myself, our small associations have been a clear priority for many years, thanks to the dedicated work of the ITTF Development Department. Our focus must now be the empowerment of our smallest and most recent members, and through our ITTF Marketing Department have secured the support of Seamaster to achieve this,” shared Mr. Weikert at the ceremony.
Celebrating and assisting over 70 children at the ceremony getting in touch with table tennis for the very first time, he added “I am very glad to having the possibility to see with my own eyes the situation of an Association starting from zero. This allows me a better understanding of the reality of this type of Associations. Bringing Table Tennis to all parts of the world was a priority for the ITTF and I am really happy to see this process ended, but we have to be aware that the challenges don’t end here but rather change the priority into empowering. This will be done with education, a key word for the development, by implementing Administration Courses to all National Associations who wants to take part, and promoting healthy, sustainable and autonomous members.”
Upon receiving the ITTF flag from Mr. Weikert, Ms Jandi stated “It is an honour for me to have received Thomas Weikert and Leandro Olvech in Guinea Bissau. I am highly committed to implementing Table Tennis throughout the country and would like to express my gratitude towards the support received from the ITTF, the National Olympic Committee and the State Secretary for Youth, Culture and Sport.”
“This has been a great team effort from many people, from ITTF Development and Education staff, to Continental Presidents, to ITTF Course Conductors and many others” stated ITTF Deputy CEO Glenn Tepper who is in charge of Development and Education & Training, and started the ITTF Development Program back in 1999. “Our current ITTF President Thomas Weikert, personally went to sign the last country on earth and was assisting Leandro and I at the recent Rio Olympics to liaise with the last 4 countries through their Olympic Committees shows the importance of this historic moment, which no other sport has achieved.”
“I feel immensely happy to have been part of this visit to Guinea Bissau and the project of joining 226 countries under the umbrella of the ITTF. It is a big pleasure to witness this milestone in the history of the ITTF recruiting the last Association in the world,” expressed ITTF Development Director Mr. Leandro Olvech who was in Guinea Bissau earlier to empower and assist the local stakeholders with the setting up of the association, and conducted a Coach Education Course at the University of Bissau.
The official approval of Guinea Bissau, together with Cape Verde, Eritrea and Bahamas, will be made at the ITTF Annual General Meeting on 31 May in Dusseldorf, Germany during the World Championships to make it a fact that table tennis is played in literally every country on earth.
Following the official induction into the ITTF family, these 4 new members will receive US$25,000 technical support from Seamaster, who is also the title sponsor of the ITTF World Tour, and US$5,000 equipment support from Stag International, alongside empowerment through coach education and organizational development.